The Shinobi Way
Since September of 1999, Naruto has grown both as a character and as a franchise. Spawning anime sequels like Naruto Shippuden and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, along with several video games, Naruto shows no signs of stopping. Naruto X Boruto Ninja Tribes is the newest addition to the franchise from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. Combining characters from the original and sequel series, this beautifully animated RPG pits you against opponents in teams of three. Want to be trained by Naruto himself? Now you can. Believe it!
Starting with a fight between Shippuden-era Naruto and Sasuke, you’re taught the fighting mechanics needed to play the game. Interestingly, your first fight, you’re introduced to adult Naruto, who explains what you experienced was Shinobi Genealogy. Using this version of time travel, you get to choose different generations of ninja to fight with. There are three teams: Force, Spirit, and Energy. You can stick with the team members provided or use the edit option to swap characters. When fighting, however, characters are often put into random teams of three against other random teams of three. In a unique twist on the turn-based genre, you cycle through the characters you have instead of using one set. Your enemies do the same, making every turn a different and fun challenge. Though not super hard to win, there are creative ways to defeat enemies.
Every character has a letter next to their picture representing three shinobi types: Attack (A), Defense (D), and Tactical (T). For two or three to attack at once, their character colors must match (colors being red, yellow, and blue). To quickly take out an enemy, you pit opposite types against each other, like a game of rock-paper-scissors. According to the game, A defeats T, T defeats D, and D defeats A. For example, Naruto is, unsurprisingly, an A, meaning he can defeat Ino, a T, in one turn. Each character comes with their own unique fighting move that you can watch play out. Moves like Kiba’s ‘Fang Over Fang’ and Haku’s ‘A Thousand Needles of Death’ are easily recognized, referencing both manga and anime. Fighting scenes can be skipped, though they don’t take too long.
Collect, Level, Unlock
Ninja Tribes divides into chapters, and subsequently divides further into levels. Each chapter has nine levels, the last one unlocking special shinobi if you win. Completing levels not only earns stars, it also levels characters and yourself. Stars are earned by completing the same level objectives: clear the mission, no allies defeated, and use a 3-chain attack. A 3-chain attack is when all three characters attack at the same time. Collecting a certain number of stars unlocks reward chests; get all 27 to open all three chests! Additional rewards are also earned, such as elixirs, pebbles, tiles, and blocks. You need all of these to promote (i.e. level up) your characters. The more they’re promoted, the more powerful they become. All characters level up at the end of every level, and the more they level up, the more you upgrade.
When you level up, certain actions are unlocked. With your characters, unlocking things like Skills and Gear directly make them become more powerful. For you as the player, there is a Challenge section which provides different rewards for different completed challenges. Beyond the Daily Bonus challenges, there’s also Daily Primary, Daily Secondary, and Daily Leveling, along with Main and Running Start. Specific items can also be unlocked, such as Gold Rush and EXP Drills, achieved at player levels 17 and 30 respectively. Gold Rush earns more in-game coins, while EXP earns, well, more EXP. Additionally, as with most RPGs, there’s an Alliance feature, unlocked at player level 23. If playing alone wasn’t fun already, wait until you play with friends.
Coins, Coins and…Rice Balls?!
Unless you’re a chronic spender, it’s impossible to run out of in-game currency. There are two different money types: Ryo and Shinobi Coins. When you open the game, you cycle through near-endless daily rewards of both before playing. Spend Ryo to promote your characters and summon helpful items like elixirs and EXP. Use Shinobi Coins to summon characters (and potentially find rare ones). Both are free to earn once a day. If you summon a character you already have, they turn into Shinobi Fragments, helping to upgrade your characters. In true Japanese fashion, energy is measured with onigiri, or rice balls. As a common but tasty snack, it’s no wonder the developers included them. Rice balls have been in almost every piece of Japanese manga and anime, so why not video games?
As you play Ninja Tribes, you’ll start to notice things. Though much of the game is translated for non-Japanese users, characters still speak Japanese. This doesn’t take away from the gameplay, but it would be nice to have subtitles. Additionally, when characters are attacking, the name of their attack sometimes disappears while others don’t. Not sure if this is a glitch or not, but again, doesn’t take away from gameplay. When the game is loading, you see three characters doing the famous ‘Naruto run.’ It’s a cute way to keep players entertained while they wait. Lastly, the character art and 2D animation is gorgeous. As your characters level up, you unlock art of them in action shots. The colors and attention to detail really make everyone pop. Plus, the 2D animation is so smooth, you feel like you’re in an anime. Even the hand movements some characters use are beautiful.
“The next generation will always surpass the previous one” – Kakashi Hatake
Overflowing with content, Naruto X Boruto Ninja Tribes is an RPG you don’t want to miss. Collect and upgrade your favorite heroes and villains while watching them fight with turn-based gameplay. Lose yourself for hours in visually stunning animation and daily challenges. Fun for longtime fans, new fans, and even non-fans alike. Keep fighting, dreamers.
Is It Hardcore?
It’s almost impossible to become bored with this game. A bit overwhelming at first, but very easy to learn.